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Dairy Research at Agricultural Research Forum

15 March 2012
Teagasc

IRELAND - This week, research was presented at the Teagasc Agricultural Research Forum. The research discussed the success of new entrants in dairy farming, changes in productivity on dairy farms and calf mortality.

New Entrant Dairy Scheme

In advance of EU milk quota abolition in 2015, the Irish government had decided to allocate one quarter of the annual one per cent increase in milk quota between 2009 and 2015 on a permanent basis to new entrants to dairying. Two hundred and thirty new entrants successfully received 200,000 litres of milk quota in the initial three years under the New Entrant Dairy Scheme.

Roberta McDonald presented a paper on the make up of the types of farms and farmers entering the scheme. The Teagasc, University College Dublin and Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) analysis studied the quota applications submitted to DAFM.

The analysis found that a young and highly educated group of new farmers are using the scheme to enter the Irish dairy industry with the majority converting from beef and mixed enterprise farms.

“Ninety-three per cent of new dairy entrants have at least two years of formal third level education and intend to expand to a herd size of 70 cows producing 655 kg milk solids/ha as relatively large scale and efficient milk producers post EU milk quota abolition.

“The results provide a further indication that quota abolition is likely to result in an amplified polarisation of milk production intensity in traditionally intensive milk producing areas in the south of Ireland,” concluded Ms McDonald.

Productivity changes on Irish farms

Eoin Kelly at Teagasc Animal and Grassland Research & Innovation Centre, Moorepark, presented an analysis by Teagasc and University College Dublin of productivity changes on Irish dairy farms between 1996 and 2010.

“Productivity growth over the 14-year period was 10 per cent or on average 0.7 per cent per year,” said Mr Kelly. “There was a positive productivity on Irish dairy farms during this period, which was mainly driven by technology changes. Increased productivity was associated with reduced percentage of land rented and with greater levels of quota. Milk price and increased subsidies were also associated with productivity changes.”

Perinatal mortality

Perinatal mortality in cattle is defined as calf mortality shortly before, during or shortly after parturition.

Reporting on a joint Trinity College Dublin, Teagasc and Irish Cattle Breeding Federation study, Deirdre Purfield, TCD, concluded that: “The prevalence of perinatal mortality is still quite high in Ireland but the incidence is still, nonetheless, low in the absence of dystocia. However, genetic variation clearly exists for traits which influence perinatal mortality suggesting that, if exploited, the incidence could be reduced.”

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